Iguazu Falls: When is the best time to visit?

Fog over Iguazu Falls
When is the best time to visit Iguazu Falls?

Well, based on our limited sample size of 1, we estimate that it's during the shoulder months of May and September. That was our thinking going into our trip and it seemed like we got a pretty good experience though there was a slight issue with high water closing off San Martin island until our last day.

Anyways, here's our rationale for why we're partial to May and September...

The peak season in terms of visitation is said to be January through February when Argentineans and Brazilians are on holiday. Easter is also said to be a very busy time and June/July is subject to winter break. These are times when prices for food and lodging are probably at their highest.

December through March is summer. This is the hottest and the most humid time of year. The average temperatures range from lows of 23 deg C (73 deg F) to highs of 32 deg C (90 deg F) with humidity consistently above 90%. Monsoonal rains in the tropical drainages of southeast Brazil further upstream can mean the river can be in high flow, which can be a real bummer if the catwalks get flooded. High flow can also mean the falls are covered in mist and would be hard to see.

The winter months are June through August. This is when rain is mostly likely and the temperatures range from lows of 10 deg C (50 deg F) to high of 23 deg C (73 deg F) with humidity around 60%. Though cloudy weather can occur any time of year (being in a subtropical environment), overcast weather tends to be more likely this time of year. The result is less than impressive photos compared to when you have blue skies. This is also a time when waterflow can be high if it has been raining heavily.

So by process of elimination, you can see that the shoulder season gives you the best of both worlds - tolerable crowds, tolerable weather, and a fair chance of having good weather.

We visited the falls in the beginning of September, and we were blessed with relatively comfortable temperatures (about 28 degrees Celsius), average waterflow (which is said to be about 1000 cubic meters per second), off-peak crowds and prices. We did have to contend with gloomy gray skies on the first day, and as alluded to earlier, we had to deal with the closure of San Martin Island until the last day we were there.

There is one final caveat. Even if you time your trip for September or May, drought could put a damper on things - especially if the falls go dry. As rare as this is (it has occured in 1934 and 1978), it's something not to take lightly - especially in light of Global Warming, Climate Change, and the subsequent changing rainfall patterns. For example in late 2006, South America experienced its worst drought in 20 years and Iguazu Falls was not spared (see a photo here). It's one more thing to think about (or at least pay attention to) when planning your trip to Iguazu Falls.

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